My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My Generation Sucks

Everyday when I walk by a picture poised in the center of the mantel, over a fireplace that is never lit, and I hear it speak to me. Everyday I hear it calling and I cannot, dare not, answer. Everyday I wish to live up to the face I see looking back and everyday I fail. He stands in the snow, pride on his shoulders and courage radiating from somewhere deep inside his soul. He is pure energy pushing off of the canvas in every direction. Fighting the 80 years of still cellulose to build a better life for me and still I do nothing. I wish to prove myself to history, to my country, to my parents and most of all to my Grandfather. But I cannot. Not because for lack of want – but for lack of cause. And for this, everyday, I fail him.

Each generation has fought out this countries evolution through pain, love, hate, anger, joy and loss. They have put society’s human advancement at the forefront of their lives, each playing their given role and have made this country and world a better place. Simply look at the preceding hundred years leading up to my birth: WWI, Roaring Twenties, Great Depression/New Deal, WWII, Cold War, Civil Rights, Watergate and Vietnam.

And since then? 9-11. For a brief moment this single horrible event brought the country once again under the banner of solidarity for the greater good. Unfortunately, it was quickly squandered by an administration who exploited our ability to work in unison for their own greedy agenda. Some of the dumber in our society bought it, a few still do. I believe that our moment, our one chance, my chance, to make a difference was carelessly wasted and I/We will may never get another.

Now I would never wish for another Vietnam or to remove any freedoms from any class of people. But what I long for, what my generation so desperately needs is to feel is meaning. Beyond the time where your age is counted in months there is no great feeling of accomplishment in small steps. There is no reward for slight advances in abilities – these are commonplace, boring and expected. Surely, any culture left in peace and relative prosperity will grow. Progression has never been a cause for joy. Evolution is merely habitual.

Tonight, as I do every night, I will walk back again past him and he will beam at me and ask what I’ve done. Again I will tell him nothing. Again I will fail him and again I, my generation, will fail to find significance.

Infotainment You Can Trust

First the basics:

Infotainment or soft news, refers to a general type of news media broadcast program which either provides a combination of current events news and entertainment programming, or an entertainment program structured in a news format. The term "infotainment" is a combination of information and entertainment. People in the infotainment business may be called "infotainers" or "media personalities."

Infotainment generally refers to the segments of programming which overall consist of both "hard news" segments and interviews, along with celebrity interviews and human drama stories. Critics have claimed the combination of the two aspects is a conflict of interest by corporate news outlets —focusing on marketing, not journalism. The term "infotainment" thus may be a pejorative among those who hold professional journalistic values in esteem.

Bill of Rights

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

My gripe:

Now I take personal responsibility for this and please know that I’m doing my best to fix the situation as fast as possible. I’m sorry for any inconvenience that this has caused.

The issue I have today is that I’ve somehow let the news and entertainment switch places. I don’t know how it happened, but it did. One night I went to sleep having watched the hourly nightly news talking about the economy, war and the weather. When I woke up the next morning there were forty seven news channels running 24 hour live coverage a day.

Actually, I think it started with cable TV and CNN and has gone down hill since. When CNN started they had about 4 hours of material each day that ran on a loop over and over until another big story came out. As you can imagine, this was a big hit. At anytime during the day you could flip to it and see what was happening in the world while you were off living life. A couple minutes later you were caught up on everything and could go back to your life knowing you were informed. Life was good.

Then, one morning, an ex-football player decided to take a drive on the freeway after killing his wife and all hell broke loose. Immediately there were forty six other news channels that were running 24 hour live coverage of every little nuance and detail of the trial and the entire circus that went with it. Overnight people who were entertainment journalists turned into real journalists. Life was weird.

When the trail finally ended the channels decided that even though they were lacking the actual news to fill 24 hours they were going to try it anyway. Life was rough.

It took the stations a while to realize that there is only about 4 hours of news in the world on an average day to report on. So in came stories that weren’t suitable for anyone to watch and that kept people kind of interested for awhile. Then the beautiful, vapid people arrived to report that news. Another little increase occurred. Another brainstorm later he news stations realized that if they started leaning one political way or another they were bound to attract people who loved and loathed their slant. And finally, stories were made up, blown out of proportion and news that wasn’t somehow now was. Life was sad.

Now we stuck with too many news channels loaded with people who are unqualified to read, let alone report, telling us about things no one cares about in a biased way for ratings while looking stern and attractive.

So if it’s not the bleached airhead telling you about a country she couldn’t find on a pastel colored map; or the tall always pissed conservative guy telling you why, for the 4356 day in a row, he is outraged at THOSE people; or maybe it’s the average intelligence news correspondent clearly attempting to talk and interview people 50 point higher in IQ then they are; maybe you just tuned in to here the extreme views of some belligerent media whore go absolutely unquestioned by a news personality who is already reading ahead to the next story involving a some other belligerent media whore.

Voila, infotainment.

This is why I no longer watch the news. I’m not sure this is exactly what the founding fathers had in mind when they choose to lump freedom of the press as the top of the most import set of laws in this country. As a matter of fact, I think that if they were to have seen how our media has devolved they would have abandoned the whole right of speaking in public all together.

Death, but as a good thing

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics: that no energy is created in the universe and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all of your energy, every vibration, every BTU of heat, every weave of every particle that was her beloved child, remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid the energy of the cosmos you gave as good as you got. And at some point you would hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your broken hearted spouse in their pew and tell them that all the photons that have ever bounced off your face; all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile; by the touch of your hair; hundred of trillions of particles that have raced off you like children have had their waves forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that other photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes. That those photons collected within her created constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever. And the physicist will remind the congregation how much of all of our energy is given off as heat (there may be a few people fanning themselves with their program as he says it). And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here as part of all that we are even as we who morn continue the heat of our own lives. And you will want the physicist to explain to those who loved you they need not have faith, indeed should not have faith – let them know that they can measure, that scientists can measure, precisely, the conservation of energy and have found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You will hope that your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound, and be comforted to know that your energy is still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy not a bit of you is gone – you’re just less orderly. Amen.

Winds of Change

Let me preface this by saying that I don't care what you think. Now that we have that out of the way we can continue:

At time I was the director of technology for a company that owned most of the grocery stores, radio stations and imports/exports on the island of Grand Cayman. The average house was built 10 feet above sea level when Hurricane Ivan rolled ashore with 200mph winds, a 30 foot storm surge and constant string of small tornadoes scattered throughout the two days it had ownership of the island. The real hell is the months afterwords. This is my account of the storm itself in hours as it fell through my brain. I have excluded the months after the storm because most of you would no longer speak to me as one sane person speaks to another they believe to be sane.

September 9th, 2004

1300 - Just called Kela to tell her that I’m leaving work. She’s invited two classmates to our home because they’ve closed the dorms. Don’t care, just want to leave the station after I do my last report on when and how fast it will make landfall.

1400 – Last one here, finishing last copy of backups. Leaving one in safe, taking one with me and putting one in a ziplock at another location. Evacuated work on bosses command via cell. Insisted all of us wrap our computers in trash bags in case the roof comes off. Dumbass.

1500 – Arrived home to find three nervous, excited people and one stupid dog. Dog obviously the only one with any sense. Decided to watch movie.

1600 – Power cut to the house. Van driving around with loudspeaker told us to leave. Loading the car with idiots and stupid. Don’t know where to go – headed back to work.

1630 – Back at work with group. Checking updates to storm online – it has strengthened. Going back on air to tell people that their god hates them.

1700 – Boss leaves own safe house to make sure all computers at work are covered. Thanked me for telling masses their f*cked and sends me out the door. He obviously doesn’t want to come back to dead bodies and spitefully uncovered computers.

1730 – Called friends down the street who haven’t been evacuated. They’re all drunk, have their elderly parents in town, kid hopped up on sugar and two dogs running crazy in carnal anticipation. This should be fun.

1800 – Two cases of beer and a couple hotdogs turned out to not last as long as we had hoped. Storm coming ashore, driving home to get supplies.

1830 – Arrived home, again, this time to waves crashing over pool and onto back deck. Decide to hurry.

1900 – Driving back to friends with reasonable amount of supplies. Small, unconscious three cylinder Suzuki Alto gains self realization to waves crashing over street, trees falling in path and finds 200 horsepower.

2000 – Arrive at friends, again, everyone already drunk – thank god.

2100 – Storm arrives fully and knows that we f*cked his sister and didn’t call.

2200 – Decided to wake everyone when water comes through front door. Everyone hurries to abandon food for essential electronics equipment in mad dash upstairs.

2205 – Reality sets in, we missed the DVD player. Everyone takes it personally.

2230 – Hunger sets in, forced to drink Jamaican Beer

2300 – Water slowly rising fast to first floor ceiling. Decided it was a good time to take a nap.

September 10th, 2004

600 – Woke to sounds of waves hitting the inside of the house, went outside on porch to pee.

605 – More Jamaican beer as I watch the waves slowly break on the second floor landing. God this beer sucks.

1000 – Realize that storm is not going anywhere and water is slowly deeper. Talked with friend about having to crawl onto the roof with 150mph winds. Talked about letting dogs in go into the raging current to fend for themselves. Talked about maybe having to abandoned friends parents to save the next generation. Tricked Kela into calling parents one last time to tell them we’re having fun. Potential goodbyes are worse then the real one.

1100 – Prepare final plan with male of friends family. Wait for seemingly inevitable.

1800 – Water has stopped at second floor. Can see very little left of surrounding homes around us from porch. Wanted to cry but everyone else beat me to it.

September 11th, 2004

200 – Nothing has changed. Going to bed.

600 – Wake and see that nothing has been missed.

1200 – Water has receded. Storm has passed. Wading out to see who else is still alive.

1230 – Roads are gone, homes are gone, cars and trucks have been tosses around like scraps of paper, all low lying areas are still underwater, walking to work to see if the radio station and grocery store remain. There are people everywhere who look like they’ve crawled from hell back up through the earths crust. Why aren’t the dead lying bloated in the pools with the rest of life’s remains? Where is the pain when you need to feel it?

1300 – Nothing left of the station. Roof came down, my office is missing. Someone has neatly removed the roof from next door and left stacks of paper completely untouched. Grocery store across the street being looted by machete wielding Jamaicans. Reinforcements of other employees arrive to watch same Jamaicans selling freshly squeezed and stolen orange juice for $10 a ½ gallon. They decided to take business elsewhere as more start arriving on foot.

1400 – Catch ride in direction of home – hope it’s there when we arrive.

1430 – Pass downtown in back of Jeep with dog and wife. Some buildings are standing, some are missing, some look as if they never were built.

1445 – Stopped in heavy traffic on road parallel to beach, forced to bail and walk. Find out road is now perpendicular to beach. Hike in deep sand towards home. It doesn’t hurt as bad I as I thought it would to loose hope.

1600 – Walk down driveway, neighbor’s roof hanging from trees. House remains standing, roof missing, stench unbelievable. House not that bad – all furniture ruined, linens stained with the past, crack running from floor to roof separates the two new different gradients of house.

1700 – Sit on wet bed with dog, wife and despair. Nothing left to do.

1800 – Decide to go on with life, not happy about the choice. Spend night sleeping on floor in 90 degree heat. Somehow lack the liquid in my body to cry.

September 12th, 2004

800 – Walk back to town, find one of the companies inland grocery stores still standing and other employees cleaning. Pull out backups and drain water out of computers. Salvage 4 out of 20. Lines are forming outside, there is very little food in the store. People look impulsive. There is only essentials for half of them.

1000 – Heavily armed police arrive quickly for an island without any guns or reasonable transport. They take up arms at the main doors and lines for limited rations begin.

1200 – Fix satellite feed and regain internet access and voice over ip phones. Call around to inform people that we lived. Doors open, people push, gun fired, warehouse truck with complete warehouse arrives as reinforcements, push of people felt in everyone's stomach.

1400 – More shots fired. Tell boss to put wife on plane immediately. Find out runway closed. Chartered flights to start tomorrow. Vague threats tossed back and forth, I win. Decided to work, nothing else to do.

September 13th, 2004

1000 – Put Kela on a plane. She cried enough for both of us. I go back to work.

September 14th, 2004

Move into coworkers house. Sleep on floor in garage with dog and other people. Learn to sh*t in a bag, bathe in the ocean and swing a knife.

September 15th, 2004

Borrow car someone carelessly left keys in. Pack remains of house in car, drive back to new garage home and store remaining crap in locked closet in nondescript boxes. Ditch car down street, keep keys. Call wife.

September 16th until December 3rd

Spend every night on concrete floor with dog, sh*t in a bag, eat whatever we can steal from store, bathe in ocean, walk to work, wish for death.

December 4th

Arrived in Maine. Met wife. Wait until she went to sleep and slept on floor.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

October 11, 2005

It's been brought my attention that I haven't really posted any personal current events. So here goes:

Last night I went to the Anderson Chili Cook-off. And personally, I believe that this event should have stopped by Homeland Security.

Now I'm not trying to be mean here, so I'm just going to say that the chili wasn't quite up to par. This was more comparable to a bent can chili from the Dollar Store or somewhere in-between Stuff Alpo Wouldn't Put in a Can and Is That Before or After? brand chili.

I know, I know - you are thinking, "Brian you were probably the only one there who has ever placed in an International Chili Society sanctioned event. You’re just spoiled." Well to that I say screw you. This crap was.. .. well .. .. .crap.

The city limited the teams comprising local restaurants. There were about 12 chili (and at this point I’m using that term loosely) teams competing and only one of them was even palatable.

The good news is that it only costs 3 bucks and you can bring your own beer as long as it is hidden in a Starbucks cup and sipped only occasionally when no one is looking.

Overall I think the event was quite cute. They had a full mariachi band that did an excellent job at both The Lion Sleeps Tonight and The Devil Went Down to Georgia (which if you’ve never it heard sung by a mariachi band, you really have never lived). But more importantly, it was a block from our house. I really can’t tell you how important it is to be this close to home after this type of event.

Anyway, it was fun and there is talk of maybe next year lifting the rule forcing all of the chili to be gray. Now if you'll please excuse me - I feel I need to go gargle with penicillin.